Protestors have once again returned to the store where Michael Brown spent some of his last moments before his fatal two-minute encounter with a Ferguson, Mo. police officer.
At the center of the latest controversy surrounding the 18-year-old’s killing is previously unreleased surveillance footage from Ferguson Market and Liquor, included in a new documentary called “Stranger Fruit” by filmmaker Jason Pollock.
FILE – In this Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, file photo, Kush Patel, right, carries out bags of merchandise while helping his uncle Andy Patel, rear, clean up the looting damage from Monday’s riots at his store, Ferguson Market and Liquor, in Ferguson, Mo. The store is disputing a new documentary’s claims that surveillance video suggests Michael Brown didn’t rob the store before he was fatally shot by police in Ferguson. One of the filmmakers said he believes the footage shows Brown trading marijuana for a bag of cigarillos early on Aug. 9, 2014, and that Brown intended to come back later for the cigarillos. Store officials said no drug transaction took place and Brown stole the cigarillos while at the store later that day. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
The new footage can either raise or answer questions about what happened on Aug. 9, 2014, depending on who’s watching. Brown supporters and critics alike have made claims of manipulative editing of the video.
The video in Pollock’s documentary appears to show Brown and three store clerks bartering marijuana for cigarillos and two sodas, which Pollock alleges Brown left in the care of the store clerks to simply collect later in the day. In a more widely-circulated video, Brown returned to collect his items, and Pollock says an altercation ensued only when Brown was refused the items that were rightfully his.
“This video shows that they lied to the world about what happened. They wanted to make Mike look bad so they put out half of a video to destroy his character in his death,” Pollock said in a CNN interview with Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr. “He didn’t rob the store, now let’s talk about the actual physical evidence that proves Officer Wilson lied and proves what happened at Canfield .”
St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCullough and Jay Kanzler, the lawyer representing the storeowner, both released unedited footage of the interaction this week. According to McCullough and Kanzler, though two of the clerks did pick up a baggie produced by Brown to smell the contents, the item was placed back on the counter and returned to him. At a press conference, Kanzler admitted that the moment Brown allegedly reclaimed the drugs is blocked from camera view when the third clerk leans over.
McCullough and Kanzler both point to the fact that the clerks restocked all of the merchandise they had just bagged for Brown as evidence of a failed attempt to barter.
“There was no transaction. There was certainly an attempt to barter for these goods but the storeowners had no involvement,” said McCullough in a press conference shortly after the release of the unedited surveillance tapes. “It was clearly an attempt to distort this and turn it into something it isn’t.”
As to why the video taken around 1:15 a.m. is just now being disclosed, McCullough said, “That whole video was examined, certainly very on in this, we were well aware of it, of course, we issued a search warrant in order to obtain it.”
“Everybody knew about it,” he added. “It was determined that it was neither relevant nor material to anything that occurred later that day around noon in the store or on Canfield drive.”